Seventeenth International Conference on Technology, Knowledge, and Society

  • 2021 Special Focus: Considering Viral Technologies: Pandemic-Driven Opportunities and Challenges
  • 8-9 April 2021
  • Hosted by: University of Melbourne (Virtual Conference)

2021 Special Focus: Considering Viral Technologies: Pandemic-Driven Opportunities and Challenges

Since the beginning of the current crisis, lockdowns, quarantines, and stay-at-home orders have swept across our everyday lives – and at an incredible speed. To keep our societies functional during this time of global pandemic, we have turned increasingly to digital communication tools and networks. Digital technologies protect us from the social exposure to the virus, with tools that facilitate contactless delivery of essential goods, virtual meetings, and cloud services that enable work from home and e-learning delivery. In connecting with business, schools, or government. automated interactions have in many cases replaced even virtual human contact. Digital technologies now know more about us and the virus – from contact tracing that monitors vectors of viral transmission, to big data analytics that track viral spread. Here are some of the key dimensions of these changes, and focal points for this research network:

Technology: Each response has been a viral technological “patch.” Existing tools are used and implemented not only in conventional ways, but also in new and innovative ways. The effect has been an acceleration of key technological trends in areas such as digital payments, tele-health, and online learning, to name a few. We have also seen the legitimization of digital infrastructures to monitor and track populations – from biometrics, to facial recognition, to shared electronic health records.

Knowledge: In the social meaning-making space, “data” has become viral. In debates about the nature of the virus and strategies for social response, we see contestation and doubt around the scientific evidence, differing cultural approaches to community safety, and uncertainties at the interface of culture with national regulatory approaches – all based on differing interpretive frames of knowledge.

Society: We have quickly developed a new shared grammar of “going viral.” This revolves around the geo-spatial nature of the viral flow. On one hand, this addresses the divide between place-based versus online. On the other hand, this raises questions of sociality itself – in-person social distancing versus digital interactions.

In a not yet distant past, going viral was a measure of success in the digital world. This mapped a kind of sociality in digital environments. Now we are in the middle of a different kind of viral technological moment. What might we have “let out of the bag” at these pivot points of Technology, Knowledge, and Society? And looking towards a future supposedly defined by the Fourth Industrial Revolution dominated by technologies of intelligence, what kind world will be left?

Plenary Speakers

The Seventeenth International Conference on Technology, Knowledge, and Society featured plenary sessions by some of the world's leading thinkers and innovators in the field.

Gregor Kennedy

Gregor Kennedy

Pro Vice-Chancellor (Teaching and Learning) at the University of Melbourne and, Professor of Higher Education, Melbourne Centre for the Study of Higher Education (MCSHE)

Linda Corrin

Linda Corrin

Associate Professor and Director, Learning Analytics, Learning Transformation Unit, Swinburne University of Technology

Susanna Paasonen

Susanna Paasonen

Professor of Media Studies at University of Turku, Finland

Deborah Breen

Deborah Breen

Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning at Boston University (BU), Massachusetts, USA

Local Organizing Committee

Dr Kathryn Coleman, Senior Lecturer, Visual Arts and Design Education, Co-Director UNESCO Observatory of Arts Education, Melbourne Graduate School of Education

Professor Sophia Arkoudis, Professor of Higher Education, Associate Dean (Research), Melbourne CSHE, Melbourne Graduate School of Education

Dr Bella Blaher, Faculty Research Manager, Melbourne Graduate School of Education

Melina Mallos, PhD Candidate, Melbourne Graduate School of Education

Meredith Hinze, Manager, eLearning/eTeaching, eTeaching Unit, Academic Support Office, Faculty of Arts

Dr Charles Sevigny, Senior Lecturer, Director of Digital Learning, School of Biomedical Sciences, Academic Programs and Major Coordinator, Department of Physiology. Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences

Dr Clare McNally, Lecturer, Oral Health, Melbourne Dental School, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences

Dr Karen J. Donald, Senior Lecturer, Doctor of Physiotherapy Course Coordinator, Physiotherapy, School of Health Sciences. Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences.

Emerging Scholar Awardees

For each conference, a small number of Emerging Scholar Awards are given to outstanding graduate students and emerging scholars who have an active research interest in the conference themes. Emerging Scholars perform a critical role in the online conference by commenting and engaging the parallel sessions, and presenting their own research papers. The 2021 Emerging Scholar Award recipients are as follows:

Alison Jane Martingano

Alison Jane Martingano

The New School for Social Research, New York, United States

Melina Mallos

Melina Mallos

University of Melbourne, Australia

Ben Yeo

Ben Yeo

Seattle University, Seattle, United States

​Riddhima Sharma

​Riddhima Sharma

Bowling Green State University, Ohio, United States

Wei Shi

Wei Shi

Rutgers University, United States

Siddharth Deore

Siddharth Deore

Sapienza University, Italy

​Eunice Owino

​Eunice Owino

Kenya

Colin King

Colin King

Acadia University, Canada

Janine Arantes

Janine Arantes

Victoria University, Australia

Keegan Steyn

Keegan Steyn

University of Cape Town, South Africa

2021 Conference Partner